This week’s blog features an interview with ASLTIP member, Gillie Stoneham. Following last week’s look at different paths taken by speech and language therapists, we are putting the spotlight on Gillie and the different aspects of her career.
Gillie explains how her business, ActorFactor came to be; “My life has always included acting and speech and language therapy, and I was using improvisation and role-play both for other training companies and in communication skills training within the SLT programme at Marjon. I met and was inspired by a like-minded soul, Emma Brown, who trained as an actor and Alexander Teacher, and like me had a passion for voice and human interaction. We became co-directors of the company and we were offered a number of exciting contracts including providing actors for undergraduate medical training and for the Fire Rescue Service. We were trailblazing at the time and, even though there are now many companies out there, we have a huge amount of expertise by drawing together actor and facilitator skills and experience from health, theatre and education. I’ve been lucky that my work crosses into my Clinical Lecturer post by having opportunities to pursue some research in the field of clinical simulations – now a significant part of continuing medical and nursing education”.
ActorFactor started in 2002 as a company offering tailor-made personal and professional development programmes using techniques such as forum theatre, role-play and simulations as opportunities to practice desired behavioural change. ActorFactor also provide individual and small group coaching, including a focus on specific voice and presentation skills, through to design and delivery of bespoke programmes within a range of public sector and corporate organisations.
Gillie is a Senior Lecturer in the SLT programme at Marjon in Plymouth. She also provides Simulated Patients for medical exams and for CPD in the health professions, and actor-facilitators have been working with the speech and language therapy students at Marjon. Gillie has also developed the use of actor-facilitators within clinical education programmes, as experiential learning of coaching and leadership skills.
In Gillie’s independent role, she has more recently expanded her work in voice and fluency and ASD, and as a voice and dialect coach. With such an interesting and varied role, we asked Gillie how she had envisaged her career path would look when she graduated, “I initially thought that I would stay in a paediatric service, although knew that I wanted to keep up my work with stammering after developing an interest as part of Lena Rustin’s Camden & Islington team. I knew fairly early on that I was interested in the psychosocial impact of communication needs, and my experience has developed through qualifying as a counsellor some years ago, then through becoming an accredited coach, and integrating solution-focus and NLP tools. I had no idea that I would be able to combine my love of improvisational theatre and communication skills consultancy and it was an exciting time when both my passions came together in my career”.
Gillie was asked about her thoughts on the diversity of SLT roles and career options available; “Human communication is endlessly fascinating, and I love sharing the passion that SLTs have in this specialist field. We have an enormous amount of specialist knowledge and skills to contribute and I hold a great deal of respect for those who have developed this in one particular field. We should also hold onto the fact that our knowledge and skill base is transferable, and I think this can sometimes be forgotten in such a large institution as the NHS. Much as I hate the changes that are now being forced upon it, and the job uncertainty this is creating, I believe that there are and will be other career opportunities out there and enterprise is one way of forging them for yourself.”
ASLTIP’s membership has been growing rapidly since 1989. We are a support organisation run by our members. The executive board is always grateful for new members and new ideas.Apply for a membership